This past week, I was half-watching the morning news when they aired a report about how Prince Charles was depressed that he was one of the least popular royals. He's bummed because he's already 64, and his mom looks like she's going to live forever, and at this rate he'll never get to be king. (I'm not sure I understand the problem. The promotion seems to involve little more than getting a scepter and a slightly bigger crown, which frankly looks uncomfortable.) The TV reporter went on to note that while Brits were getting tired of royals in general, Americans are still mesmerized because we don't have a royal family here to follow. I nodded.
The very next report, though, was an announcement that Jenna Bush Hager, already a "special" correspondent for the "Today" show, has taken a side job as an "editor at large" for the magazine Southern Living. I sat and stared at the TV. Chelsea Clinton is also a reporter for NBC. Chris Cuomo, the son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, is an anchor for "20/20." Meghan McCain has a cushy job as a columnist. Bristol Palin, who doesn't seem to have any verifiable skills except a knack for picking men badly, has had her own reality show. I'm pretty sure that the Obama girls have already lined up some sort of "special teen correspondent" contracts with CNN, to start in four years.
It hit me: We don't have a royal family here; we have a whole lot of them. If you have a rich or famous parent in this country, odds are you're going to end up rich or famous. If you have a rich and famous parent, you could be the dopiest, dullest person in the world, and your only accomplishment in life might have been being in the right womb at the right time, but you're still headed for the top. Think about it: You live in a world where Bristol Palin is going to do better than your kids.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think that people ought to be penalized just for having rich and famous parents. There are some who probably would have done OK even if they came from so-so parents. Take the Trumps. Ivanka Trump actually seems smarter than her Dad. Donald Jr., though, is another story. I'm pretty sure that if Donald Jr. didn't have a mogul dad, he wouldn't be a big-shot businessman. I think he'd still hear people saying "you're fired" a lot, but after that, they'd hand him a box and ask him to get his stuff out of the building.
The Donald himself didn't exactly start at the bottom, anyway. His own father was a fabulously successful real estate developer in Manhattan. Donald had his first skyscraper back in the days when he didn't even need a comb-over. Mitt Romney's a self-made billionaire, and I'm sure it was just coincidence that his father, George Romney, was not only chairman of the world's biggest auto company but also governor of Michigan. Jenna Bush Hager is the daughter of a president, who was the son of a president, who was the son of a senator. We don't elect people in this county. We coronate them.
I'm sure there are some families where the kids aren't too keen on following in the family business. I wouldn't be surprised if Steve Irwin's son's first words were "By crikey! I'll be stuffed, mate! You want me to stick my head in what?" And O.J. Simpson's kids probably sit up at night worrying that they'll inherit some of Dad's fame.
A lot of this, of course, is just spoiled grapes. My own parents, while perfectly good at raising kids, were neither rich nor famous. While my father didn't leave me a vast fortune, he did give me a couple of his old ties and a pair of shoes that were only slightly cracked. When I went out looking for my first job, I got a lot of blank stares. I got to where I was ready to print resumes by the ream and carpet-bomb the city. My own kids will suffer the same fate. They'd probably be better off if they claimed to be orphans.
My grandkids will probably sit down in front of their 800 million megapixel flat-screen 3-D TV one night to watch a presidential debate between Sen. Sasha Obama and Gov. George Herbert Walker Prescott Bush VI, moderated by the respected journalist Donald Trump III . Of course that's only if President Bristol Palin doesn't run for a second term.homemaking
Homemaking is a column about the people, projects and pride that make a house a home. Peter McKay, a Ben Avon resident, is a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. To see past columns, go to www.post-gazette.com. Contact him at www.peter-mckay.com.